PORT OF ST. LUCY, Fla. – Mark Johnson, 61, has lived all his life around alligators. That’s why he was so surprised when a man tried to catch him and drag him into a canal behind his home in southeastern Port St. Lucy.
Johnson managed to make the gator let go of his foot by burying both of his index fingers in the hungry reptile’s eye sockets. Even then, he felt lucky to get out alive.
“I always thought I had a better chance of encountering a rattlesnake on my morning walks than an alligator caught me,”
ATTACK ON GATOR
Johnson was walking around 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 13 on a canal with his eight-year-old golden retriever, Rex. He had seen the gator swim south in the canal past where they walked. Rex was right by the water’s edge, gnawing at the grass when Johnson noticed the gutter turn to them.
“I went down to the muddy bank and called Rex to come home. He left immediately, but my Croco sank into the mud. As I tried to swing it, I saw the gutter jump out of the water and grab the back of my right knee. “
The force of the attack knocked Johnson to the ground. In shock, he turned and knew he had no chance of opening his jaws. But he wanted to act quickly before the goth could try to get into his “death roll,” perhaps twisting a leg or a piece of his thigh and calf from his bone. Then he reacts with his fingers to the eyeballs.
FACE TO FACE
Somewhat to Johnson’s surprise, the goiter immediately relaxed and sailed away.
Johnson was limping 75 yards to his shielded porch, blood dripping down his legs. His 25-year-old wife, Lou, immediately helped him into the shower to clean the wound and wrap a clean towel around it.
They went to St. Lucy Medical Center, where the wound was disinfected and treated. He received 12 stab wounds and about 60 stitches in his leg plus five more in the index finger of his left hand, where he cut it into the eye socket of the gator.
He said the pain was as intense as the strength of his jaws pressing against his legs as much as his teeth. He said the worst pain he had ever experienced was twice when stepping on stingrays while fishing in the lagoon of an Indian river while S
Johnson said he did not blame the alligator. He was just doing what alligators do.
“But it’s important for people to understand how dangerous alligators are,” Johnson said. “If I were a small child or a pet, I wouldn’t have a chance.”
Johnson said it was important to keep a cool head to survive.
“You can’t panic. I also bass fish all the time. I will reach out and raise the bass with my hand. I just got lucky. “
ALIGATOR FOR NUSANCE
Johnson asked his neighbors, the Challenors, to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to report the incident.
“Take one (alligator) and 10 more come together,” said Jerry Chanellor. “It’s a swamp. We built our houses in Florida in it, the home of the alligators. “
The FWC sent an incident with a trouble hunter on the spot, but they were unable to find the alligator.
“The cap told me I was lucky,” Johnson said. “He said that the trick with the fingers of the eye cavity does not always work.”
He said that when he managed to resume his walks again, he would probably carry some kind of weapon for protection.
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